New fire ignites memories of 2002’s Biscuit blaze



PORTLAND — The specter of 2002’s Biscuit fire is hanging over Southern Oregon’s Josephine County.

Fire officials tell the Medford Mail Tribune the Labrador fire is burning in the same area.

Snags left from the Biscuit are catching fire, falling and igniting brush that has grown in the past decade.

Fire spokeswoman Virginia Gibbons says the conditions are similar to those of 2002.

She says the fire is burning in steep terrain, and there’s potential for explosive growth.

Sunday night, the Labrador fire area was estimated at 700 acres.

By the time it was contained, the Biscuit fire had burned in about 500,000 forest acres — 780 square miles.

At the time, that was the largest since the 1800s. Last year, the grass and sagebrush Long Draw fire surpassed it.

Douglas Complex fires

Residents of 75 houses in southwest Oregon have been advised to leave as firefighters try to get a handle on a crop of wildfires touched off by lightning.

Fire spokesman Cheyne Rossbach said Monday that flames from the Douglas Complex fires are within a mile of some houses. More than 40 homes are on evacuation alert.

Lightning late last week touched off dozens of fires in southern Douglas County. Most of the small ones were contained, and some merged into larger fires.

The fires have burned 13,400 acres, nearly 21 square miles. That number is expected to be revised Monday afternoon as aerial mapping tracks the spreading fires.

The fires are only 2 percent contained.